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Morning breaks over Shipbreaker Bay, a mist sweeping in from the Narrow Sea, wet and cool, lush and beautiful. The sea itself is still this day, its wonted fury seemingly still, in awe of the beauty this morn presents.
Storm’s End stands stalwart, ready for the storm, as it has for eons past. The gates stand open, awaiting the return of its puissant son and his bride to be.
Through the grove of ancient trees west of the curtain wall, a line of horsemen appear. They are strong in number and noble in bearing, clearly long in the saddle. Through the fields and over the stoney ridges they approach and those upon the walls can make out their colors: Black and Gold.
Before them flaps the prancing Baratheon Stag and the sound of pipes and whistles is carried on the wind, just on the edge of hearing.
A horn sounds the declaration of colours. A welcoming horn. And not very long after do the mighty gates open, and there forms a greeting guard. At the forefront is the banner of Baratheon - kinsmen to greet the returning bridegroom - but not too far beyond that is the mounted, rigid form of Lyrissa Hightower, amongst her kinsfolk and the colours they bear. Her dark gaze thoughtfully rests upon the arriving party, leather gloved hands giving enough pressure to hold her bay mount in check.
“Ho there,” comes the declaration from the wall, “Proclaim thee for Baratheon and those within!”
Ahead of the party a large courser is spurred. Its rider is a massive figure, cloaked in black, his jupon black with a single golden quarter over his left breast which bears a black stag’s head with lightning bolts issuant.
Throwing back his bearded face, his dark blue eyes gleam in the muted morning light. His deep voice fills the fields and echoes from the walls as he says, “All know me for Sarmion, Knight of House Baratheon, loyal servant of his King, the Lord Corwen, and STORM’S END!”
At that the company behind him, similarly attired, errupt into cheers, save for the knights of various livery who merely join in the sport of the thing. The music errupts louder as the Baratheon knight spurs forth his mount towards the greeting party.
A cry comes from the walls. Cheers and hallos of greeting. Lyrissa glances up in some surprise, her horse rocking in annoyance at the noise. She shortens the reins with a harsh movement, a low noise in her throat - a warning. Her head tilts in pride at the pronouncement of name and loyalty - and the smallest smile curves her lips.
Grand Baratheon clad folk - genuine and sycophant move forth to greet Sarmion, and shortly after is the small party from Hightower; their colours a relief from stark black and gold. And through it all - the Hightower maid’s gaze is thoughtful upon the mountainous groom. A leather clad finger brushes her lower lip, but shortly - as ever - she is the perfect lady: cool, calm, proud.
“Ho there, Sarmion Stormbreaker, your arrival is watched for and welcome!” comes the effusive greeting from a cousin, “Shall we see you upon the field ere the day is old? We look forward to your teachings brother!”
“No doubt you have suffered much in my absence, Tom!” Sarmion bellows, reaching over to poke the other in the stomach, “I see you’ve padded your armor since I’ve been away, frightening the maids and courtiers away to the North!”
He laughs and looks up to find the maiden’s gaze on him. Slowly, he guides his horse forward while placing his right hand upon his chest and bowing his lofty head crowned in the blue black locks of House Baratheon.
“My lady,” the Stormbreaker’s deep voice pronounces sonorously, “Yours is a sight most welcome at the end of a long journey.” He smiles.
Lyrissa tilts her head up at the pronouncement from the Stormbreaker, and to the faintly disapproving gaze of her chaperone, she replies in mezzo-alto tones to contrast his own, her voice a ripple of velvet and honey in the sharp morning, “My lord is a welcome sight also. I had heard tell of his coming and see that it is all that it should be.” A faint smile.
A silence, as much as there can be found at Storm’s End, descends across the crowd. A wariness rises - there is a sense that this is a vaguely important meeting. And mayhap not. After all - what’s done is done. Is it not?
“We are in accord then,” the giant knight chuckles deeply, turning back in his saddle to the Baratheon crowd behind him, he offers, “All is well!” He winks at them while Lyrissa cannot see.
Many laugh at the sight of it, while Sarmion turns his dark blue eyes upon the Hightower maid, “I trust my kinsmen have treated you to your desires, my lady? I know it is… rougher here in the Stormlands, but my people care deeply for those we count as friends.” He smiles slightly and adds, “And… more than friends.”
“There is comfort found where friendship is warm, Ser Sarmion,” Lyrissa replies with a faint smile, “Here they desire our match and so every comfort is made. If ours were a lovematch and they disapproved, I have no doubt I would be given beds with frogs and no blankets.” There is a sharp intelligence and dark amusement in her gaze.
“The Stormland folks are ever…practical…but I have found no fault and so I find comfort from it…” she gently shifts her horse toward the gates.
“But you must be weary from your journey and there are comforts within. Shall you not join us, Ser Stormbreaker, and tell fearsome tales of the battlefront that is the Red Keep?” Lyrissa quirks a smile at the much taller, fearsome personage at her side, “You have been missed, my lord.” She gestures to the walls where cheers still come…
“We have few frogs in the Stormlands, my lady,” the Stormbreaker offers as he looks up at the battlements to her gesture. He grins, “I have been long away.”
Looking over at Lyrissa, he muses, “Truth be told, I prefer a battlefield to the Court. At least you know where the knives are being pointed at you.”
Smiling, Sarmion adds, “You are lucky, my lady, not to have known it as I have. I will not frighten you with harrowing tales of intrigue. You might enjoy it more once you’re there.”
“I doubt it, Ser Sarmion,” Lyrissa replies with simple dignity, “Tis a life I was bred for - but one I do not care for. But should you ask it of me, it shall be done and I will give you no cause for shame.”
There is a simplicity to her answer, one that suits her, “And I do not like…losing,” she continues softly - and with a proud glance at her husband to be, “I just assume that all the knives are pointed at me, unless utterly proved otherwise. It saves time.” There is an odd cynicism to her tone also.
The Stormbreaker chuckles at this, his deep voice rumbling in the space between them, “We share that dislike, my lady.”
Smiling, he shakes his head slightly, adding, “No, I would not ask it of you. I lived at Court since a young age as a squire to the late King Aegon.”
Looking at the looming mass of Storm’s End as they near the gates, Sarmion gives her a knowing look under his thick brows, saying, “My Lord Brother on the other hand… Well, he may have you charm a Princess or two, an it please you.”
“If the wishes of my husband are as the wishes my good-brother, then so shall the princesses be as sisters that were never mine to claim,” Lyrissa proclaims softly, “Hightower and Baratheon shall be as kinsfolk within the Keep.”
The Keep is given a fearful glance nonetheless, as though for all her brave words, the woman nonetheless is a little afraid of what is to come. Her mount feels her hesitancy and dances it’s disatisfaction for but a handful to see.
“These are things we need not worry on, my lady,” Sarmion says as he they pass through the gates into the curtain wall, “Let us think now of the feast to come!”
Gesturing behind him to the music still carrying on, he adds, “I trust we will have merriment enough for you ere then.”
Smiling to himself, he says, “The gifts that have been prepared for you I hope will please as well.”
Distracted from the moment of the future closing her own in its iron grasp, Lyrissa glances to Sarmion, “You are too kind, my lord, I can only hope my own gifts will bring as much pleasure.” Her hands tighten upon the reins.
“Much preparation has already taken place for the celebration. I fear that even as you despise the court of His Majesty, it is coming to join us as you speak - daily do the colours from across Westeros come to pay homage to the joining of Tower and Stag.”
“No, no, my lady,” Sarmion says lightly, “Do not mistake me. It is not His Grace’s Court I distain, merely a few within it.”
He smiles then, adding, “You have already pleased me much. Anything more would merely please me that much more.” Grinning, he muses, “I trust His Grace will find my Lord Brother’s courtesy as fitting as you have found it.”
Nodding, he looks around and swings himself from the saddle, taking a deep breath. He hands the reigns of his spirited mount to a nearby servant, then moves to help his bride from the saddle. He offers, “It has been long and long since the Kings have passed through these gates.
Accepting the assistance of her groom, though whether she needs it or nay is not apparent, the Hightower maid dismounts lightly - and when upon her own two feet ‘tis apparent her head barely reaches his shoulder - and from there she must look up to his face, but she seems not to be too discomfitted with the situation.
“There is much in the kingdom to occupy their time,” she replies smoothly, “When matters of war and disharmony bend their ear, weddings and betrothals gain barely a murmur unless it tis to their own kin that it happens.” She holds out her hand for him to take in the formal manner, properly gloved of course, “But whether King or courtier is here present, the Stormlands shall not have seen a wedding such as our own in some time.” There is a proud tilt to the Hightower’s chin.
Accepting her hand, it is a tiny thing against his muscled and scarred own. Sarmion covers it with the calloused fingers of his other hand and guides Lyrissa towards the Drum tower.
Smiling down at her, his dark blue eyes hidden, the Stormbreaker offers in his deep voice, “No doubt it shall.”
Even then, the rest of the company catch up to them and soon the walls echo with the raccous jests of Stormlords and the others in their company. Giving them a passing grin, answered with jeers and laughter, the Baratheon knight says to his betrothed, “Come, my Lady, let me see if I can tell you some tales of this place, if I can remember them from my Maester’s lessons…”
He leads Lyrissa away from the rabble.
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